Guru Nanak was traveling, spreading the Nectar of Truth throughout the world. He travelled with his two friends: Bala and Mardana.
Mardana said to Guru Nanak, “Guru Ji, we are always in the jungles, can we find a village to stay in? Maybe some people will be kind enough to host us . . . ”
Guru Nanak always helped Mardana, so they went to the nearest village. When they met the people there Mardana asked them, “We are humble travelers. We are hungry and haven’t slept in real beds in a long time. Will you kindly host us?”
The villagers were very rude, “Pfff, who do you think you are!? You just show up and think we’ll give you whatever you want!?” “Yeah, I think you so called ‘humble travelers’ are spoiled . . . and entitled.”
Mardana responded, “I am with Baba Nanak! We are not spoiled! I am just asking for a simple – ”
But the villagers cut him off, “I’ve heard of the famous Baba Nanak. People only like him because they are weak and easy to convince. Hmmpphh!!”
Mardana didn’t like that, “You don’t know what you are talking about. Guru Nanak is great, he has no care for the world, he – ”
The villagers again cut him off, “We only help our own. Hey, I know what we can offer them! How about a nice comfy spot to sleep . . . on the floor in the town center.” “They’ll also need some food. Sometimes people leave their leftover food on the floor. Feel free to join the dogs and feast on that!”
“Alright that’s enough advice for this stranger. We’ve given him enough of our time, c’mon we’ve got better things to do.” And the villagers left to continue whatever they were doing before.
Mardana could NOT believe it, “Wow, I’ve been to so many places and met all kinds of people . . . but I have never met such harsh . . . and inhospitable people in my entire life!!!”
But even the floor in the town center was smoother than the ground of the jungle outside, so Guru Nanak, Bala and Mardana stayed in that village. Hours before the sun, as always, Guru Nanak woke up, bathed, and sang kirtan. In most places people were enchanted by the beautiful voice of the Guru. But not here.
The villagers said, “Hey, what is that noise!?” “Ugh, I think its those spoiled guests who invited themselves to stay here . . . ”
“Hey strangers! Keep it down over there!” “Yeah, we’re trying to sleep. Not everyone are useless travelers like you, we have actual jobs and we need our rest!”
Mardana was trying to meditate with Guru Nanak but this made him angry, “Arrrgghhh, these people are the worst!!!”
For the rest of their time they were there, the villagers ignored them and carried on as if they weren’t even there. Soon enough they left the village. Those villagers picked up rocks and began to throw them at Guru Ji, Bala and Mardana: “BYE BYE!” “Good riddance!” “And don’t come back!
Mardana wanted to scream at those people . . . but he knew Guru Nanak wouldn’t approve. He thought, “I think . . . I think I hate these people . . . like I actually hate them . . . ”
Guru Nanak turned towards that village and raised his hand to give a blessing:
“Vasde Raho! May you all be blessed to stay where you are.”
Mardana thought, “Why does Guru Ji bless them?? Those people treated us horribly! In fact, I don’t think they deserve his blessing at all! And what does that mean anyways, may they ‘continue to live here’?! Like they should prosper as they are?”
They continued to travel. Soon enough they came to another village, “I will ask these people if we can stay. There is no way anyone could be as bad as that last place.”
Mardana was right, “We are humble travelers. We are hungry and haven’t slept in real beds in a long time. Will you kindly host us?”
To his welcome surprise these villagers were more than welcoming, “Well of course you can stay with us!” “We’ll be happy to host you! It is our pleasure.” “Please, sit down and let me wash your tired feet.” “Here have some water.” “And I’ll get some food warmed up for you now!”
Mardana was so happy to meet these sweet, warm people, “Thank you so much. Traveling with my Guru, Baba Nanak, it can be difficult. You don’t know how grateful I am for your kindness!!!”
Well these villagers hadn’t heard of Guru Nanak but any guest was a saint as far as they were concerned, “And our new guest is a special man, I can tell, so his Guru must be a really great man. I’m sure of it.” “Well you’re always right! Later let’s get everyone else in the village together.” “Yeah, we should all come meet his Guru to serve him and learn from him!” “Yay! The one thing I love more than meeting new people, is learning new things!”
So Guru Nanak and Bala were happily invited in. After they were bathed and fed, all the villagers gathered around Guru Ji to listen to his singing and his wisdom. Mardana was enjoying this new environment, “I love these people. These people are just the best, they’re just so amazing. These people are so kind and so generous, they’re just so . . . lovely!!!”
Then when it was time to sleep, “Please you can stay in my room.” “Oh no, they can take mine!”
Mardana asked, “But where will you sleep? You can’t both fit on the same bed!”
One villager volunteered, “I will sleep on the floor. Don’t worry, I enjoy it sometimes, it’s good for my back!”
Mardana even resisted their hospitality, “Oh, I can’t let you sleep on the floor.”
But the villagers wouldn’t have it any other way, “Sahib Ji, we insist.” “Here is your bed don’t worry. Sleep well. Good night!”
Hours before the sun, like always, Guru Nanak woke, bathed, and sang kirtan. Instead of protesting like the previous village, these people appreciated his singing, “How beautiful . . . ” And they got up to join him, “I guess it’s time to wake up.” “Let’s get everyone who wants to join.” “You’re right, everyone will enjoy this bliss too.”
And they woke up some others to join in listening to Guru Ji. “Woah, this is enchanting, oh my God . . . ” “It’s like the voice of the Heaven’s themselves . . . ” “This is such a blessed moment, I could cry . . . ” “I was just going to say the same thing . . . Waheguru . . . ”
When Guru finished singing, the villagers were enchanted. Soon enough it was time to continue their journey. Now the villagers protested! “You’re leaving already!? Oh it’s only been one day, please stay longer!” “We want to hear more about your teaching and singing… and I have more food recipes I haven’t cooked for you yet!”
Mardana reluctantly informed them, “Thank you so, so much for everything . . . but . . . we have to go now . . . ”
Out of respect the villagers accepted it, “I guess we have to let you go . . . but having you here has been the blessing of my life.” “Please come back we will happily offer you whatever I have, and serve you in any way!”
Mardana said, “I’m going to miss you all!”
And they felt it back! “We’ll miss you more! Please, please, please come back soon!!” “You are always welcome here. We love you!”
The villagers gathered at the town border to wave goodbye to their beloved guests. Mardana felt so much love, “My heart is so happy. Those people are the best!! I really am going to miss them . . . ”
When they were outside the village, like before, Guru Nanak turned back and raised his hand to give them a blessing,
“Ujarh jao, may you all be blessed to be scattered to the four winds.”
Mardana couldn’t help but notice how Guru Ji had given different blessings to the two different villages and he thought, “Wait, what!? He would have all these beautiful people scattered?!? What does that mean, that they should be punished and be driven out from where they live? Why on earth would he curse them like this!!!???
He was so frustrated he protested, “Guru Sahib! The first place we went to, where all those horrible people lived, you blessed with prosperity. And then this time . . . with these good people, you cursed them!!! Why!? It’s not fair!!!”
Guru Ji’s words soothed the fire in Mardana’s mind:
“The people of this second village should be scattered so that they may reach to other places, spread joy to many others and teach the world their wonderful ways. The people of the first village should keep to themselves. Their unfriendly and harsh thinking would be limited within their own village. If they were to spread to the world, they would spread their ego and hatred.
If the friendly people only stayed inside their own village, it would be unfair to the world. Now tell me — what is fair?”
Mardana was humbled, “I see Guru Ji. You are always right, of course. I was just reacting to my own feelings, I wasn’t thinking what’s best for the world.”
Has anyone ever treated you badly? Have you ever treated someone badly? It is important how we treat each other. Each of us has to decide how we will treat others.
And we who believe in the Guru’s teachings, we feel like this: ‘atit vekh nahi devai daan, so nahi paavai dargah maan’ which means, ‘The one who does not serve a guest, will not be honored in the court of God.’
So go and be happy! Welcome everyone as family, and take care of your guests with love.